I have never done this before, but for this lesson I have turned to the thesaurus to learn more about what it means to worship. I readily admit that I am among those who have forgotten what it means to feel genuinely dependent upon God and his mercies. This article is designed to raise questions, and make suggestions. I don’t pretend to have the answers. What is presented below is meant to get you thinking about how you feel about the Sabbath day, and the subject of worship, and how those two can live together in harmony.
Honor and glory
When you honor someone, how do you do it? If you have an honored guest in your home, what do you do for your guest that others may not receive? What is the difference in attitude, as well as in treatment? What is the purpose of this treatment? Is it to abase yourself, or is it to elevate the guest, because of the love and admiration you have for them?
When we honor the Lord are we abasing ourselves to elevate him? Does our humility toward our God lessen us in any way, or does our humbling ourselves do something good inside of us? Does humility bless us in some way? What are the fruits of humility in our lives?
When we want to worship the Lord on the Sabbath, what can we do to honor God, whether you are thinking specifically of the Father, the Son, or your relationship with the Spirit? Remember that we only worship the Father, as per the commandment of his Son, but giving glory to the Father also glorifies the Son. But we seek the emulate, imitate, become like, Christ. He is our perfect example of how we worship our God. What did he do to show honor to his Father? What did Christ do to glorify God?
That brings up the subject of what it means to give glory or to glorify. What does that mean? I only know of one way to give or bring glory to my God, and that is to emulate his lifestyle. He lives to bless the lives of others. He lives to exalt and uplift others. When I do these same things, I compliment my Father and show him that I value what is important to him. In this way I increase his influence. I give the credit for what I achieve to him and his teachings in my life. That credit is the glory I give back to him. In return he increases my capacity for doing good, increasing my personal glory. Notice that in this cycle of giving and acknowledging, and receiving glory, everyone is benefiting and being blessed. I am worshiping by acknowledging my dependence on God for all the goodness in my life, for all things good come from God.
To worship something is to serve that which we love or adore. How do we serve God on the Sabbath? Here are some verses from Mosiah 18. Read them then I will ask some questions to see what you think about the subject.
27 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.
28 And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.
29 And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.
How far are we allowed to go in our service to others on the Sabbath day before our service violates the spirit of this holy day? Is it possible to violate the spirit of this day when we are in the service of our fellowman? Alma said that God commanded them to impart “to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.” Is that allowed to be done on the Sabbath, or are we only allowed to do service for the needy on the other days of the week? What did Christ do on the Sabbath that was roundly condemned by the religious leadership of his day?
I have seen several mentions of a charity of late who provide beds and bedding to families who cannot afford to give their children beds. These children are often sleeping on the floor and lucky to have a blanket. If we made blankets or quilts or helped to deliver beds to the poor on the Sabbath day, would we be violating the spirit of the day? What if we were assembling hygienic kits for refugees or people who have experienced natural disasters? Can that be done on the Sabbath?
I believe that almost any activity can be done with an eye single to the glory of God, and can also be done for self-serving reasons. So any activity we choose to do on the Sabbath needs to have the right attitude motivating that activity.
Devotions, prayer, rites, rituals, adulation, awe
To be devoted to someone or to offer up our devotions upon the Lord’s holy day, is to demonstrate our profound love, admiration, ardor, or commitment to God. When we attend church we have the opportunity to demonstrate our devotion to God by partaking of the sacrament worthily. That means that BEFORE church we have inventoried our life and determined that we are clean before God and can worthily partake of the sacrament. If we still have ill feelings towards someone then we need to do what we can to resolve those issues before we enter the chapel and participate in this sacred ordinance.
Worship also entails prayer. When we sit through sacrament meeting do we make any effort to communicate with our Father in Heaven during that 70 minute period? Are we too busy wrangling children, napping, texting, or catching up on the latest sports scores to even think about God during this special time? Prayer is a special gift from God that allows us to communicate with him one-on-one. Prayer is an open invitation for the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, to be our companion. It is through prayer that we hope the Spirit will open our mind and heart to the will of our Father and guide us in our efforts to think and feel as Christ does.
It is through the rites and rituals of the sacrament service that we are actively able to demonstrate our adulation, devotion, love for God and the Redeemer who has offered himself for us. Do we ever notice that we feel a sense of awe during the sacrament? Are we filled with a sense of great debt? Do we feel to weep with gratitude for what has been done on our behalf and what is offered to us in the way of eternal opportunities? If we are not experiencing any of these emotions, can we truly say we have worshiped that day?
Deference and delight
To defer to someone else is to demonstrate respect for someone and do what would please or benefit them over what we might prefer for ourselves. When a man opens a door for a lady he is deferring his right to go through the door first (since he arrived first) so that she can go through before him. Deference to God is a way of demonstrating humility and love for our God. But how can we defer to God on the Sabbath day?
We can show deference to God by making sure we are being properly respectful to our Church leaders. Deference may include the payment of our tithes and offerings (generously given). We can also defer our personal pleasures, like watching a sporting program or taking that treasured nap, and instead finding some way to do something that would bring pleasure to our Father in Heaven. Surely there is someone in each of our families or in our circle of acquaintances and friends who could use some company, an uplift, some service, or even just a kind word on the Sabbath.
When we worship God we take delight in that service we perform. It becomes something we seek out because it demonstrates our ardor, our love for our God. All things having to do with our connection with God tend to be inconvenient to the carnal mind. That is mainly because the carnal mind is ultimately selfish, seeking its own pleasures and conveniences first and foremost. When we learn to love to serve the Lord, we begin to forget our own pleasures as we realize that those things which please God the most are the same things that also bring us the greatest joy in life. Small wonder the Lord refers to the Sabbath as a delight.
There are more than enough questions and situations in this lesson to keep us thinking, feeling, and talking for hours and hours. If you take the time to try to answer each question before class, and some of these questions get brought up in class, you will find that there will be a wide range of opinions and feelings. If we are to have our hearts knit together as one, we will need to learn to respectfully, and lovingly talk about these things and come to a unity of the faith. If we invite the Spirit into the lesson this can be done.